The Ulrich is pleased to present a selection of puppets and masks created by Wayne White during his time as Wichita Riverfest’s first artist in residence. Among other events during the 10-day residency, White worked with local artists to build several large-scale puppets for Riverfest’s Safelite® AutoGlass Sundown Parade and conducted public mask-making workshops for anyone interested in walking with him in the parade.
White’s inspiration for this series of puppets is Kansas history. Prominent historical figures are whimsically represented in forms typical of White’s work. Abolitionist John Brown’s maniacal face has been cartoonishly exaggerated in White’s oversized mask, and prohibitionist Carrie Nation furiously wields her hatchet as she chases the mischievous liquor bottle. White and his citizen collaborators also created a herd of more than forty cow masks, a small group of which are on display here, which celebrate Wichita’s birth as an outpost on the Chisholm Trail.
White is a three-time Emmy Award winning artist. Best known for his set and puppet designs for Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, White also voiced characters on the show. His other television credits include production and set design for Shining Time Station, Riders in the Sky, The Weird Al Show, and Beakman’s World. White was also art director of two seminal music videos. The first was Peter Gabriel’s Big Time in 1986, for which he won a Billboard award for best art direction in a music video. The second was The Smashing Pumpkins’ Tonight, Tonight in 1996, for which he designed the Georges Méliès-inspired sets.
Wayne White’s residency in Wichita was made possible by a collaboration between Wichita Festivals, Inc. and Harvester Arts. Additional support was provided by the Ulrich Museum of Art and Wichita State University School of Art, Design and Creative Industries.